Friday, January 24, 2020


Paradox number one, from Fintan O'Toole:
Revolutions unleash euphoria because they create tangible images of change and inaugurate, at least in the fevered minds of their supporters, a new epoch. Brexit can’t do either of these things. The problem with a revolt against imaginary oppression is that you end up with imaginary freedom.
He's right. On the day we leave, bongless but with god knows what sad gimmick to accompany a fascist knees-up in central London, nothing will happen. Obviously, we enter transition, but even after that is over, the great moment of liberation will not come. That's because we are not oppressed. We are not 'ruled by Brussels' we are one of the most powerful members of a supra-national organisation managing the largest and most effective free trade area in the world. We jointly run Brussels and are not run by it. Neither is the EU imposing a neoliberal hegemony. We are giving up power in the name of sovereignty, and thereby losing sovereignty because we lose the power to decide the rules that govern our trade. 

The second is from Chris Grey.
It is one of the biggest paradoxes of Brexit, because most of those who understand what it entails at a practical level do not support it, whilst most of those who support it strongly do not understand what it entails at a practical level.
Now, it is perfectly reasonable that you and I would find the complexities of international trade baffling. But I would expect that those who advocate a dramatic course of action should actually know something about it. Given the contradictory, and often crazy, statements coming out of government at the moment, I'm not sure they do. What can you make of Javid's comment on regulatory divergence that would wipe out whole swathes of manufacturing and services? Does he mean it? Does he understand it? I might have problems with the details, but he's the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

This is a brilliant must read from Ian Dunt, explaining the issues that have to be addressed. It's a long, and extremely clear Q and A. That's what the government has to get to grips with.

These paradoxes are probably why Brexiters are still angry and resentful. They like the idea of Brexit, but dislike the consequences. That's why they throw the blame for everything at the EU or remainers.

Zombie Brexit will happen. It will happen despite the fact that polls and voting show that a majority opposes it. It will happen despite it being rejected by all the devolved assemblies of the UK's constituent nations, raising the prospects of a constitutional crisis. It is the English alone that are ensuring it happens. This makes it less an act of English nationalism than one of English imperialism.  Even its claim to democratic legitimacy has crumbled. People are losing their jobs. Business is already divesting. The costs are escalating. The damage is already occurring. It can never deliver what it promised because it is based on an ideological fiction. Now that fiction has to face reality.

On 1st February we will have completed the easy bit. Yes, that's all. What comes next is far more difficult. Expect the same stupid statements, wild rhetoric, crazed nationalism and all that goes with it. Expect too, the climb-downs, u-turns, and sophistries. We have no idea what will happen. The government seems to be rushing into this phase without a clear idea of the final destination - again. Don't expect a sudden catastrophe or vast recession, the economy will still grow, but by nothing like the rate it should. There will be a slow erosion of jobs together with gradual business closures and relocations. Nobody is anticipating any benefits. And after the transition, Britons without dual citizenship will find themselves as second class citizens in a Europe where they were once one of the lucky elite. (And if you doubt that, look at the money that the wealthy are paying to secure EU passports).

The best we can hope for is damage limitation as reality confronts belief. Reality always wins in the end, but when the end comes depends how strong that belief is. Boris Johnson thought that leading the losing leave side in the referendum would be his passport to the leadership. Winning the referendum instead nearly wrecked him. He now has what he craved, but at a price. The price is that he has to implement a catastrophe of his own making. We will have to wait and see, powerless to do more than wince in pain. And whatever you do, don't mention Gibraltar. Nobody seems to.

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